We moved in together after a very short time, and I know my mother felt that she didn't have the control that she had before, such as trying to dictate how I spent my Monday nights. She tried to get in the good graces of my new beau, but he's not one to play nicey-nicey. You have to earn his respect and attention.
When my beau's parents came for a visit, my mother and step-father met us all for dinner. In earlier posts, I commented about my mother's lack of social graces, and she was at her finest this particular dinner. My beau's mother had confided in my mother that she was on an anti-depressant. My mother, having no couth, brings up the subject at the fine-dining dinner table for all to hear. I was cringing! I couldn't believe how she carelessly spoke about private matters in front of people she just met and about a subject that is obviously one that my beau's mother was coming to terms with. During times like these, I would try to interject and change the topic... or crawl under the table. Although my mother tries to make people feel "comfortable" by filling the gaps in conversation with her own voice, she ends up making people feel uncomfortable by talking about things she shouldn't, being too loud and boisterous, or being completely unaware of her actions.
Around this time, my mother started telling me that we are the only family we've got. She would emphasize that I am the only family she has, and she's the only family I have. See subsequent blog post: Adult Children of Alienation Syndrome and Borderline Mother Alienates Daughter. I wouldn't comment to these statements as I didn't want to start WWIII, but she had chosen to cut-off and alienate herself from family. I still had a relationship with my Dad, brother, step-mother, step-sister, step-brother, and more that she didn't know about because I kept my relationships private. "Forced teaming is an effective way to establish premature trust because a 'we're in the same boat' attitude is hard to rebuff without feeling rude" p 66 De Becker. And this is exactly what my mother was trying to do-- over and over through these years. "The borderline mother unconsciously forces teaming by enticing comments such as... 'You're the only one I can depend on" p 163 Lawson. These guilt ridden comments really pushed me away and turned me off.
The Christmas of 2000 was a complicated one for me. Although my beau went to visit his family for Christmas, I had to juggle trying to see both sets of parents AGAIN without disappointing. My Dad always wants you there early for Christmas morning, whereas my mother wants to sleep in. The big challenge is the distance between everyone's residences. So, I spend my holidays tooling around town, racing to get to one place and the next. I barely have time to breathe in between the celebrating and racing to the next celebration. After doing this all sick, I was off to pick up my beau at the airport.
2001 rolled around and times were eventful as my beau and I bought a house. We had a joyous time signing all the paperwork, seeing the house being built, decorating, and moving. The place was our perfect place. I enjoyed my time at the house, and immensely enjoyed my time hanging out with my beau. Everyone (my parents, my beau's parents) came for a visit at one point or another, and things seemed to be moving along smoothly, happily, and copacetic. I was very amazed that I had both sets of parents in my life at one time for such a sustained period. Wow. Again, holidays were a pain, trying to juggle seeing everyone, but we made it work.
Mid-way through 2002 I left my job and entered school to earn a masters degree. I relished going back to school, earned straight A's, became a Presidential Fellow for the university, and worked at the school. I was very involved with school and thoroughly enjoyed the new friendships fostered. I was still getting together with my mother & my Dad as well as traveling to see my beau's family. Life was moving along nicely until the first indication of trouble reared its nasty head.
My step-sister, one night when we were out with our significant others, pulled me aside and told me some pretty alarming news about her childhood that involved my brother and step-brother. She gave very little detail with her main point letting me know that this 'memory' came out in therapy. I was actually FLOORED when she broke this news to me, and she begged that I tell no one. So, I didn't. I did, however, think about what she had to say, which it just didn't add up (especially if you've known her, seen how she's conducted herself, and how everyone is to blame for her shortcomings).
In 2003 , her boyfriend asks her to marry him. They start to plan the wedding, and I am asked to be a bridesmaid. The wedding is last minute planning with little time to spare. I have an appointment to be fitted for a dress; however, I have to cancel the 1st appointment as they couldn't take me on time, and I had to get to school. The second appointment was canceled due to my beau's surgery.
To backtrack, my beau started having back pain-- all the sudden. And this pain radiated down his leg until he almost falls over. He had an MRI, and I got a call at home from the DR trying to locate him because the results of the MRI indicate that he shouldn't move. I get a hold of him as quickly as I can-- and before you know it, his surgery is scheduled. Well, I wasn't able to go to the bridal shop; however, the dresses are sold online by this shop, so when I talked to my Dad about my beau's surgery, I asked my Dad to go ahead and have the dress ordered. He agreed, and he even added that he would pay for the dress. I don't know what transpired after that but I got a nasty email from my step-sister saying if I didn't go to the fitting that I would be out of her wedding. I couldn't go to the fitting due to the extenuating circumstances of my beau's surgery, his sister being in town, my exams at school, and so forth-- and figuring the dress can be ordered online, what is the big deal? Why does she have to control this process to the nth degree? Ultimately I was out of the wedding.
I still attended the wedding, which was odd, but I was there. And as I was watching my step-sister walk down the aisle, my jaw DROPPED. Not only was MY DAD walking her down the aisle, but her OWN FATHER was in the front row crying. The scene was awful. I couldn't believe my eyes. I was disgusted and kept looking ahead the entire ceremony. I wished to be anywhere but there. My step-sister even went so far as to call my Dad "Daddy" during the wedding events, which was completely nauseating. See subsequent blog post: My Dad, the Narcissistic King.
Again, holidays in 2003 were riddled with trying to get to one place and the next-- with no parent realizing the painstaking efforts taken to not hurt their feelings. I really wish I had had the kahunas to just be forthright to say 'enough is enough, you're killing me', but I know now as I knew then that all that means is if I don't play their game, then I am out of the game. So, I end up conforming to their conditions in order to keep them in my life. I end up compromising my own judgment in order to keep my parents, hoping that one day they will love me unconditionally and accept me for who I am.
Well, my beau and I had no idea that the arrival of 2004, with all the wonderful things it will bring, that the year will also be riddled with serious conflict, challenges, and chaos. On May 1st, my beau asked me to marry him. The day was romantic and all that I had dreamed of. He got on his knee and presented a beautiful diamond ring. My family seemed happy. We had no set date or place for the wedding. We were just enjoying being engaged. Even though I was euphoric over the engagement, my thoughts couldn't keep drifting to how in the heck am I going to have a wedding with both of my parents attending with their respective families!? First of all, I don't feel comfortable with all of these people together. Second of all, I am sure these people don't feel comfortable mixed together as well. No matter how I cracked it, the thought of having them all together didn't scramble well.
Don't forget the dynamics: my Dad lost his wife (my mother) because she cheated on him with his best-friend (now my step-father). My Dad remarried, and his step-daughter accused my brother and her own brother of things from childhood, where my Dad and step-mother took her side. My Dad doesn't want my brother around until he clears the situation up with our step-mother and step-sister. My mother becomes completely irrational and, frankly, crazy when my Dad is in the picture. My Dad said that he "wouldn't shed a tear" if my mother "died tomorrow". So, get the picture? Not too happy.
I thought about eloping, but I really wanted to share the day with my mother, have my Dad walk me down the aisle, have my brother witness my big day, have friends celebrate and party with us. I thought about having one ceremony-- nope, too stressful, uncomfortable, and WAY too volatile. I thought about having two ceremonies-- and this made the most sense. If my Dad is willing to chip in to a wedding, why not have the one that he wants. Then my mother could have a ceremony that she wants with my step-father walking me down the aisle. We are all comfortable, everyone is happy.
I battled these thoughts of how to handle my wedding long before my fiance ever asked me to marry him. I knew the day would come, I knew I didn't want to ruin the day for my fiance, and I knew that my family has always been a dramatic and toxic mess. The day is supposed to be the happiest day of your life. Well, I have thought and thought and thought on how to exactly do that with the particular family members I have to deal with-- and nothing made sense. The closest thing to making sense was the two ceremonies. More time consuming to plan and to execute, but the most peaceful in the long run. I talked this all out for hours on end with friends. No one had any better suggestions. I beat myself up over these decisions, and honestly, I beat myself up to the point of becoming knocked down... but that's another story.